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Career Change Careers

The Secret To A Successful Career Change

Guest Author – Leila Singh

Accredited Master Coach, Personal Brand Consultant, Corporate Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Award-Winning Author and Founder of The Authentic Leadership Academy™ and mi-brand™

Anything is possible!

If you had been with me during the summer of the year 2000, you would have seen me sitting at my desk in a large open-plan office, writing out a pros and cons list of what I wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy in my job, had a great manager and a good salary. And I had studied hard to gain my professional qualifications. Yet, I felt that I wanted more. Something was missing. Having carried out my due diligence, a couple of months later, you would find me sitting in a large meeting room, the goldfish bowl as we called it, because everyone could see in through the expanse of glass. Opposite me sat my manager, Peter.

“Recruitment??? But you have spent years working towards your accountancy career, and you are good at what you do, why would you throw that all away? Is it the money?”

“Not at all, in fact I am taking a 50% pay cut to do this…and I know it will work out…after all, what is the worst that can happen?”

A year or so later, sitting across from my Sales Director Steve, for my annual review, “Leila we took a risk on you, you had no relevant experience, and yet you have been our highest biller this year!”

Prior to this, I was the quiet diligent church mouse, who kept my head down and worked really hard; it was a manager during that time who had shared his advice “Leila, if you want to achieve your career aspirations, you need to make yourself known, so people that matter know who you are and what you do, and recognise your talents…”

I spent two years in recruitment – that time afforded me exponential personal and professional growth. It highlighted that 1) taking a risk and 2) taking myself so far outside my comfort zone, enabled me to realise what is possible, as well as my potential, strengths, and to cultivate the confidence and self-belief I had never had.

Following redundancy, I was offered an opportunity in a global technology firm; I jumped at it, as the company had a great reputation. The role? Nothing I had ever done before. Corporate Finance; designing and implementing change, negotiating multi-$M contracts with investment banks and lenders, as well as establishing and managing a significant financing portfolio across the EMEA region. My confidence, desire to win, willingness to take risks, ask questions and learn fast, held me in good stead. I built a strong network across the business and was influential in achieving results.

After six years, we were acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), where I was offered two opportunities; A Sales Executive or a Treasury Consultant role. I opted for the latter, as this complemented the previous role and enhanced my skills further. After 15 months, I transitioned to the Sales Executive role. During my tenure in this role of almost 10 years, I delivered a little shy of $1bn of business.

The Secret To Successful Career Changes.

You may be asking, what is my secret to successfully transitioning through different careers?

It comprises the following.

  • Believing that I can achieve anything I put my mind to (someone once told me this, and it is so true).
  • Going over and above in my delivery and performance at all levels, be that internal or external clients,
  • Being resilient to the challenges I encountered and never giving up.
  • Not being afraid to ask questions, whilst being a quick learner.
  • Building strong professional relationships, whilst showing up authentically and showing a genuine interest in others.
  • My desire to stand out and make a difference, and be a role model for others.
  • Maintaining high standards consistently in all that I do

And today?

I am the Founder and CEO of my own business, where I coach, mentor and train ambitious career professionals to accelerate their career, through establishing their personal brand, resulting in greater visibility, impact, and performance.

Six years earlier, whilst still a sales executive, working no less than 60 hours a week, I began to immerse myself even further into my personal growth journey; I trained and qualified as a Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy. I went on to join a Professional Speakers Academy to refine my speaking and presentation skills; an academy for which I now mentor others. I became an Accredited Master Coach as well as an L&D Trainer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (yes, this was also alongside my job). I wrote and published my book, Success Redefined – How to Leverage Your Natural Talents to be Limitless” in 2015. I also did a board break with my hand, walked on hot coals and on broken glass. I attended various events and training sessions with Anthony Robbins. I invested heavily in myself – money, time, and energy, surrounding myself with the best coaches and mentors, to continue to learn and grow and to be able to show up for my clients as the best version of myself.

I chose to leave HPE at the end of 2018 and embark on this next chapter of my life. Yes it has been challenging, leaving behind my corporate identity, the structure, the salary and the corporate benefits of a large organisation, to live in a world of uncertainty, and yet it is a life of freedom, choice, risks, celebrations and massive personal growth.

Embracing A Growth Mindset.

Growth never stops; this is one of my core values, alongside [personal] leadership and authenticity. And I am proud to say that my biggest accomplishment to date is becoming a TEDx Speaker in 2019.

If you are thinking, “I want change, but…” consider this;

1. When I went through my first career transition, from accountant to recruitment consultant, having just given notice, within a matter of days, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and as a consequence, overnight had become paralysed from the waist down. What should I do? I could have very easily chosen to stay in the finance role, something that I knew and was settled in. Yet I went ahead with the transition, whilst for the first several months, supporting my mother in adapting to her newfound restricted and tragic situation, dealing with the emotions of the situation, and being her primary carer alongside my father.

2. On the same day my mother was diagnosed, I was due to move out of home, having purchased my first place, having simultaneously agreed to taking a 50% pay cut…I believed it would work itself out – and it did.

3. I spent sixteen years of my career in the technology sector, as a woman of colour, in a male dominated environment. I did not experience imposter syndrome, nor feel that I was treated differently from my colleagues.

Why? Because my focus was on me, my desire to stand out for the right reasons, over-performing, and consistently maintaining high professional standards.

What would I say are the key ingredients needed for a successful career transition?

ABC: Attitude, Belief and Commitment (I might add: Consistency, Diligence and EQ 

Leila Singh

Leila Singh FCCA is an Accredited Master Coach, Personal Brand Consultant, Corporate Trainer, TEDx Speaker, Award-Winning Author and Founder of The Authentic Leadership Academy™ and mi-brand™

You can learn more about Leila at www.leilasingh.com and connect with her on Linkedin.

Thank you to Leila for providing us with an in depth view of her career decisions and changes. Very inspirational.

If you liked this post then you may also like this post from guest author Didier Penine – ‘Going Self Employed’.

Look out for future blogs and tips for navigating a career change.

Categories
Career Change Careers

Going Self Employed

By Didier Penine

Which Career?

For as long as I can remember I have never had a clear idea of the career I wanted, and this was reflected in my university degree as I chose the subject I was best at which was French due to my background. During my degree I realised I needed something to go with my degree so I did a postgraduate in business management to give me further options.

I found a graduate program with an electrical wholesaler, I was there for a good 10 years and earned a few promotions until I was in a head office role negotiating rebates and sales worth large sums and on paper it looked a good position. Throughout my time there I had a niggly feeling that it wasn’t right for me, and I put it down to not pursuing a career that related to my interests.

A Change Of Career

Through redeveloping my own home I gained a strong interest in buildings, and I decided that changing careers had to be done to pursue a career in construction. Having done a great deal of research I decided that Quantity Surveying would be the idea role and duly did my distance learning and gained a first class degree from the College of Estate Management.

Within a month of being there, that feeling of dissatisfaction was there again, and it quickly grew to a level greater than I had ever experienced. The people around me were incredibly helpful and supportive and really nice people, however my dissatisfaction was mounting on a daily basis and I could so no escape. This caused great mental anguish as I had spent a considerable amount of time and money to be in the position that I wanted, yet I felt trapped and was unhappier than I had ever felt before. The realisation then dawned on that I needed to be self-employed.

My first roles after graduated offered a certain amount of freedom as they were largely sales/managerial type roles. Quantity surveying was quite the opposite, I found it very restrictive, very constrained and every part of the role was bound by procedure and regulations which stifled my natural desire to do my own thing.

Going Self Employed

For a good 12 years or so I had kept toying with the idea of being self-employed, I had considered being a property developer, however I was apprehensive about the cash required to set up the businesses, plus my property skills weren’t quite there. My other thought was to set up a personalised Champagne business – clearly this quite niche but there is some logic to my desire, My family produce Champagne in Festigny, France and when I got married my dad brought over about 30 bottles of wedding themed Champagne themed around our big day, and as soon as I saw them it was kind of a lightbulb moment, I was instantly drawn to setting up a personalised Champagne business.

As much as I wanted to set up the business, I was apprehensive about quitting a guaranteed salary for doing so. I considered the Champagne business when applying for the construction distance learning but opted for the Quantity Surveying being the safer option. It was when I felt despondent in my quantity surveying career that I realised I had to go for it, and piece by piece I began putting it all together.

This was quite daunting of course as I had no contacts or even any experience in the industry in the UK. Apart from having a family that produces Champagne I was going into it totally cold, however I felt certain there was merit in the idea and that is how Say It With Champers was born. The business is now a year old and we cater for both businesses and the general public, and in terms of job satisfaction I have never been happier than I am currently. Being a startup I earn far less than I did before, luckily the loss-making months are behind me and I can focus on growing and developing the business.

A Career Change Can Be Full Of Hurdles

With hindsight I probably didn’t appreciate how long it takes to build a new business up, the hours I have worked have been much more than previous roles, and in the early days I would be doing crazy hours months only to earn a loss, which of course made me question my decision. I kept at it and a few strokes of luck came my way, now I have confidence that the business will succeed, but of course it was a risk. The definition of whether it has been a success or not would depend on the point of view. In purely financial terms then it hasn’t as the amount earned this year will be much less than previous years. For the future however I believe there is great potential, everyone in the country has birthdays, many people celebrate mother’s/father’s day, anniversaries, weddings and so on. We are also providing mini Prosecco which is perfect as wedding favours and so on.

For the corporate side I have made some great customers with football clubs and gold clubs, and of course it takes time to build things up. You carry on doing the things that work, and stop doing the things that don’t, learning by trial and error is part of the process unfortunately. I feel very optimistic about the future and I have never been happier, so to my the change has been a success, I think with any business you need to give it time and not expect it to be an overnight success.

“Changing careers is a very daunting thing to do…”

Changing careers is a very daunting thing to do, for me I really hated going to work, and when I made the decision I was 35 with another 30 years work ahead of me. I just couldn’t face the prospect of wishing away every day and hoping for the weekend for the remainder of my working career. With any of these decisions you need to be able to have the financial means to pay for the degree, potential loss of earnings (as you may be starting at the bottom of the ladder again). For those who are looking to start a business, this of course has even greater risk, in reality you have to almost write off a year without a salary, and if you can afford that plus the cost of setting the business up, then it may well be an option worth taking.

Didier penine from say it with champers

It all comes down to personality and the choices you have made in your teenage years. Your A level choices will influence your degree choice, which in turn necessarily influence your choice of career. People will often find themselves stumbling into a career that may not necessarily suit them, and of course every year that goes past, the harder it feels to take the plunge and change careers. Many people I knew were dissatisfied with the jobs and careers, and in my experience this became more pronounced when people hit their 30’s.

A change can be a good thing, a lot depends on your individual circumstance such as personality, finances and so on. Granted not every career change will be a success as I experienced myself, however it can be very rewarding for some. 

In my opinion if you are thinking about changing careers to another industry, then go for it – the risk is relatively low and as long as you leave on good terms you will likely be able to go back to your old organisation or industry if it wasn’t. Changing careers to start a business needs more thought, a clear plan and a solid financial footing are imperative if this is being considered.

Thank you to Didier for providing us with a detailed journey through his career decisions.

If you are considering a career change then you may be find this blog interesting too: ‘The Secret To A Successful Career Change’ .

Also look out for future posts on tips and resources to help you navigate a career change or pivot.

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Careers Flexible Working

Flexible Working At Oxbotica

We Are Powered By Our People.

At Oxbotica we take great pride in our team. We create a space where everyone is welcome, heard, and celebrated for their strengths. We’re driven by challenge and a commitment to make our employees experience as dynamic and rewarding as we can.

Furthermore, as we build a global business together, we are steered by our experience, insight of an entire team and guided by strong and approachable leadership.

Oxbotica support a healthy work-life balance, in part by offering flexible working and plenty of social engagements open to the whole team. We regularly share our vision, targets and company updates with everyone, including remote workers. Oxbotica believe that an engaged workforce is more productive and positive.

As we grow internationally our values and culture are fundamental in keeping us on track and moving in the right direction. Therefore, our people embody these values. They trust us to provide strong leadership, a secure environment and opportunities for growth. We trust them to contribute their energy and expertise to move the business forward.

What Our Employees Say…

  • “If there is a problem to solve, I acknowledge that I don’t know everything – and I don’t try to know everything. Instead, I surround myself with the best people. I canvass opinions from the experts – my team – and pick the answer that gets the job done.”
  • “There is a real sense of community and a very healthy attitude towards things like flexible working. This honest environment encourages accountability and creates a safe space for opening up and asking questions.”
  • “The team is full of clever people. We embrace the challenge of scaling to a global company together”
  • “It’s easy to have a say – everyone wants your opinion.”

Join Oxbotica

Join the brains behind the software that lets every vehicle do more.

Changing the way we move people and goods takes talent, dedication and a united team. Our rapidly growing company includes world-class engineers, technical leaders and commercial masterminds, who are tackling exciting challenges collaboratively and creatively every day.

We develop technology that will touch on the operation of every industry across the globe. As a company we work to create a safer future for both people and the planet. Our team members are people that share our values and drive to make an impact, as we create the future of autonomy.

Flexibility

We create the conditions to help you do your best. Therefore, we do all we can to create opportunities for everyone regardless of personal circumstances. As part of this commitment, we offer a variety of flexible working arrangements including:

  • Part time working
  • Remote working
  • Extended parental leave
  • Unpaid sabbatical

We work 37.5 hours a week, Monday – Friday around core hours of 10:00 – 16:00. This is enough for most; but if you require any extra flexibility we will do what we can to support you.

To see our Current Vacancies click HERE

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Careers Flexible Working Industry Flexers Technology Industry

Why Coding Makes A Great Flexible Career For Mums

Time To Consider Coding

When thinking about your flexible work options, have you ever considered coding?

You might have not heard of coding before, but you interact with code every day.

All the websites and apps you use have been built by code. Essentially, code is a set of rules and instructions that we give to a computer which bridges the gap between human language and computer language.

Everyone has the ability to learn to code, you don’t necessarily need to be a math genius or a ‘techie’. All you need is the motivation to learn and time to practice.

Below, are five reasons why coding makes a rewarding and flexible career.

1. Lose The 9-5 And Be In Charge Of Your Working Hours

How about no longer working 9-5?

All you need to code is a laptop and some good wifi! Many coding jobs can be done remotely either at home, in a cafe or even in another country! You can work the hours that suit you- so you’ll able to go to parent’s evening or be there for the school run. After progressing into a fully fledged developer you could work in house for a company, a web agency or as a freelancer with a range of clients that interest you.

2.  Learn An In-Demand Skill

There’s currently a huge digital skills gap; employers are looking to hire people who can code and have a technical understanding. As our world becomes more and more digital, the number of tech jobs is increasing. This report found there are over 7 million jobs which require coding skills and programming jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average. You’ll have a constant supply of jobs to apply for and chose from.

3.  Enjoy A Rewarding Career In Coding

Let’s be honest, not all flexible working options are rewarding. Coding definitely is.

At first learning to code may seem daunting, a bit like learning a new language, but you’ll soon start to realise how it all pieces together and that is a hugely rewarding feeling. You can’t help but feel proud after you’ve built your first proper web page- something you’ve written, now lives online!

Coding With 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

4.  Make Use Of Your Whole Skill Set With Coding

Coding allows you to combine your old and new skills- so you won’t feel like your previous skills have been forgotten. You’ll be able to use skills you’ve developed in previous jobs and other experiences to help you – like problem-solving, basic maths, an eye for detail, communicating and the ability to Google!

Also learning to code can be a good way to upskill in your current profession and get a new role or promotion. For example, lots of marketers and designers are learning to code to be able to edit websites and newsletters and work alongside tech teams with confidence. By being technically skilled, this will give you a competitive edge and make you stand out to employers.

5.  Feel Empowered and Empower Others With Coding

Tech is seriously lacking women. Globally 88% of developers are men; this is having a huge impact on the products and services being released- for example, Apple released a health app without a period tracker on.  By learning to code, you ’ll be helping create a more gender-balanced tech industry, smashing gender stereotypes and inspiring the next generation of girls to work in tech.

Coding Group, 23 Code Street
23 Code Street

23 Code Street is a coding school for all women. For every paying student, they teach digital skills to a disadvantaged woman in the slums of Mumbai.

Join their webinar course for beginners starting on the 10th July and learn to code in 12 weeks through weekly webinars in a friendly and supportive environment. You’ll develop a strong foundation in web development including how to build websites and apps for the web and work on your own practical projects. The course costs £550- find out more and apply here.

If you want to learn more about women in technology, then check out our other blog posts in this series. Read about The Fourth Industrial Revolution & What It Can Offer Flexers / Career Changers / Parents.


Categories
Business Careers Technology Industry

The Flexers Who Can Help Close The Digital Skills Gap

What is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is in full swing and it’s not slowing down. But what does that mean? What is the Digital Skills Gap? What impact will it have on women, their careers and flexible working? ‘4IR’ as it’s also known is the term for the way disruptive technologies are radically changing our lives. It’s the merging of our biological, physical, digital and technological worlds. Artificial intelligence (AI), Robotics, The Internet Of Things (IOT) and Virtual Reality (VR) are fast becoming an essential part of our social and economic lives. 

These changes are disrupting the business sector at an unprecedented pace. There is no denying these technologies will provide immense benefits to society. Conversely however they present huge challenges.

There is a fear that technology such as AI and robotics are replacing humans in the workplace. However, there will be strong demand for technical skills like programming, app development and skills that aren’t so easy for computers to master. Skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving and negotiating. Let’s explore this further.

The Digital Skills Gap

Here is the problem. Technology is advancing fast. Faster than many businesses can keep up with. The Digital Skills Gap is a real concern. As new categories of jobs emerge, they will partly or wholly displace others. Technology is only as good as the people developing and managing it. Businesses need to have people with the right digital skills to maintain business growth. 

Nearly 50% of companies in the WE Forum Study, expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022. 38% of businesses expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles. More than a quarter expect automation to lead to creation of new roles in their enterprise.

142,000 vacant tech jobs by 2023, 22% of which will be new types of STEM roles

A large study by EDF and the Social Market Foundation (2017) state that there will be 142,000 new jobs in science, research, engineering and technology from now until 2023. Demand for software engineers is rising quickly. Machine learning and data science fields, recorded 191% and 136% growth respectively since 2015. However another study, People Power by The City & Guilds Group (2018) found that 32% of employers struggle to recruit for specialist roles such as engineers, marketing and IT Staff, digital analysts.

The WE Forum Future Of Jobs (2018) found that technology adoption features highly in the growth strategy of companies. But the skills gap features heavily as a barrier. 

The following are considered by (2018) and The WEF Future Of Jobs (2018) to be amongst jobs with the largest hiring growth.

  • Software engineers 
  • Project managers, 
  • Marketing specialists 
  • Data Analysts and Scientists, 
  • Software and Applications Developers
  • Ecommerce specialists
  • Social Media Specialists 

Essentially they are roles that significantly involve technology. Yet the skills required to perform these jobs are also identified as ‘skills amongst the skills gaps’ by Linkedin.

How Do We Address The Digital Skills Gap?

So what do we do about this digital skills gap? Who is going to fill the gap? Do we focus on children and encouraging interest in STEM fields? How can we help schools prepare our future workers with skills in emerging technologies. Consider numerous roles within the technology sector didn’t exist when many of us where at school. 

Do we focus on the massive pool of parents. In particular the women who have so much to potential in terms of talent and commitment. The same women who wish to acquire the digital skills in demand. Parents that need support and guidance with career changes. The same people that seek flexible working opportunities. Let the demand from workers seeking flexible working meet the demand to plug the digital skills gap.

Remote working and other flexible working options are becoming increasingly popular and manageable. Thankfully, for parents who have put a career on hold because of crippling childcare costs and the nine to five inflexible working day; there is a future. However more work is needed to help businesses cope with these changes. They need to be equipped with the resources to manage a flexible working team.

The Winners Changing The Future Of Women Globally

only 15% of people working in STEM roles in the UK are female.

The percentage of women in STEM related careers is low. The tech industry offers opportunities for in demand flexible working conditions. It seems clear that this is an area for businesses to make positive developments.

It’s early days in terms of changes. But there are companies running successful schemes for returners. Returner programmes aim to encourage those who have had career breaks to return. People who have years of experience but just need to up skill and build on their confidence.

There are forward thinking organisations such as the BBC. The ‘Step Into Tech Programme’ proving a huge success. No previous experience needed just a thirst for learning and tech.

Lots of new companies such as Tech Pixies, 23 Code Street, Digital Mums and Tech Returners have emerged in recent years. They are helping train women in tech skills such as coding, programming and social media management. Then there is  The Tech Talent Charter. This industry collective are supported in the government’s policy paper on the UK Digital Strategy. They aim to bring together industries and organisations to drive diversity and address gender imbalance in technology roles.

The technology is there. The desire and passion is there. Career returners and career changers are willing. We just need to connect the dots.

Look out for more posts on this subject as we discuss ‘Women in tech’, ‘The future of the technological workplace’, ‘Coding for mums – by 23 Code Street’ and more.

Whilst you’re waiting for these fabulous reads, why not check out our flexible tech roles on our flexible working jobs board?